Blog dedicated to reporting on Mexican drug cartels
on the border line between the US and Mexico

Monday, October 26, 2009

Descending on the Townships of Chihuahua

As we previously reported the Mexican government has sent about 3,000 police and military to the southern part of Chihuahua in search for the three kidnapped federal police agents. One of the missing officials was described as a high ranking officer with close ties to the Secretary of Public Safety Genaro Garcia Luna. Their names have not been disclosed for their own safety. All three had arrived to the area from Mexico City to conduct intelligence of organized crime. But despite the unprecedented number of troops involved in the search, all will not be that easy.

With a population of about 6 thousand people, the little town of Benito Juárez, which is a municipality of Buenaventura, has never seen thousands of police officers from the Federal Police parading through their dirt roads.

The town, located 170 km southwest of Ciudad Juarez, became the epicenter of the search for the three federal police officers apparently kidnapped this week by elements of organized crime, and whose vehicle was found under a bridge over a gap that leads to Ricardo Flores Magon.

The mobilization has the inhabitants in total distress who are mostly engaged in the agriculture business. The town people are extremely fearful of the circumstances to the extent that they avoid, at all costs, talking to the police, the press or any "outsider" in the village.

"I know nothing," said a villager while avoiding further comments. Even the police commander at the scene prefers not to give details of the kidnapping, maintaining that he does not know the area well and has not been briefed with the details of the incident.

The few who dare to speak out also point out that they know nothing, but they say quietly that they try not to be too nosey in some of the property which they claim are controlled by drug traffickers for some time.

"You are better not searching there, and do not go there alone," said one police agent of "Cipol," rephrasing a comment from some residents of the town cautioning the police. The Cipol (Chihuahua Preventive State Police) also joined the huge number of federal police and military in the search for the missing agents.

Every day since the kidnapping occurred the lawmen meet regularly at the headquarters of the township of Benito Juárez where they coordinate the operation of the search.

According to commanders of the Federal Police who are involved in the operation and who were interviewed at a checkpoint set up at the road junction leading to Nuevo Casas Grandes and Villa Ahumada, the Army is primarily responsible to search by land the mountain region, and by air, the helicopters of the Federal Police track the northwest region.

The search mainly extends to the municipalities of Casas Grandes, Galeana, Buenaventura, Gomez Farias, Nicolás Bravo, Namiquipa and Villa Ahumada.

As the hours passed the hopes of finding the three kidnapped agents by drug traffickers decreases, and even some federal agents presumed that their peers are dead.

In the afternoon, after more than eight hours of searching, military and police regroup to eat.

"With so many hours of searching, we have found nothing. I think there is not a lot of hope finding them alive," said a federal agent as he descended from his police unit, with his clothes covered in dust from the trails he ran during his searches.

Their faces, uniform and vehicles are completely covered in dust. Visible on their faces, underneath all the dust, is fatigue and frustration.

This is a test of strength in numbers. Will the Mexican government prove that they can shake the drug cartel despite the cartel’s bold move to take them straight on? By saturating the area with police and military presence, will they be able to succeed in stopping the organized crime dead on their tracks? Or will the drug cartel again show that they can do mayhem at will despite the large number of police presence in the area? I guess only time will tell, but in the mean time, the lives of three police agents are in the hands of the results.

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